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|Thousands of young people, many of them
emboldened by the 2008 presidential contest, will descend on the
Capitol tomorrow to urge the government to take radical action to
stem climate change and plant the seeds of a green economy.
Arriving Friday from every state in the union -- as well as every
Canadian province and more than a dozen countries -- about 12,000
people, most between 18 and 26 years old, are in the District this
weekend for Power Shift '09, a summit aimed at raising environmental
awareness and lobbying leaders on green issues.
The four-day convention will culminate tomorrow with a rally at
11:30 a.m. on the Capitol's west lawn and meetings all day with
members of Congress and their aides to press them for immediate
"We want to make sure our new president and new Congress pass bold
federal energy and climate legislation in 2009 that dramatically
reduces emissions and creates millions of green jobs," said Brianna
Cayo Cotter, communications director for the convention's organizer,
the Energy Action Coalition, a network of 50 national organizations
that advocate for clean energy.
She said leaders "understand that young voters were a key to this
2008 election" and they are now demanding results. "We have come of
age as a powerful voting constituency."
Among the hundreds flooding the lobby of the Walter E. Washington
Convention Center yesterday -- where Power Shift hosted workshops,
panel discussions and musical acts including The Roots -- were
Lauralee Crain and Ayesha Siddiqi, students at Transylvania
University in Lexington, Ky. They have been pushing for clean energy
in the heart of coal country, which, they said, means they clash
with powerful pro-coal interests on campus and off.
They said highlighting the ill effects of strip mining and
mountaintop coal removal was among their top priorities.
"We don't have Angelina Jolie and George Clooney posing with these
devastated mountains," Siddiqi said. "We're rising to the challenge
of climate change ourselves. . . . We're not waiting for the
naysayers to catch up."
Kate Villars, a civil engineering student at the University of
Virginia interested in environmentally friendly building techniques,
attended a workshop about integrating the topic of energy efficiency
into educational lesson plans, a step she said would improve her own
Andrew Nazdin, 20, a junior at the University of Maryland, said he
is looking forward to meeting with House Majority Leader Steny H.
Hoyer (D-Md.) tomorrow to ask him to push for "science-based
reductions in carbon emissions."
"He's got a room that will fit 75 of us," Nazdin said, "but we're
going to bring 600 people and ask for a bigger room."